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Toni Morrison's Recitatif

The girls in “Recitatif” meet in a shelter/orphanage because they were taken from their mothers and placed in the home until their mothers were well enough for them to go back home. They bond with each other out of necessity, out of a desire to survive.
The girls’ personalities although different, are very much alike. They both want to have a normal life. They both are struggling to fit in and not feel different. Neither wants to admit they came from bad homes. Twyla, didn’t seem to acknowledge what was really going on. She didn’t want to admit that her mother was also “ill”. She simply liked to dance. Roberta seemed to understand a little more that her mother was “ill” but neither really understood what it meant.
The author states that she wrote this story without telling the reader which girl is black and which one is white. From the beginning I thought Twyla was the white girl and Roberta was the black girl. Twyla talks about their introduction when they arrived at the orphanage. She said her mother had told her about people of the other race, “And Mary, that’s my mother, she was right. Every now and then she would stop dancing long enough to tell me something important and one of the things she said was that they never washed their hair and they smelled funny.” I grew up around children of all races and several of my black friends told me they didn’t wash their hair more than once a week because it messed up the oils in their hair. They also used special products on their hair that made it smell bad (at least I thought it smelled bad, I was used to the shampoo and conditioner that I used in my hair as they were used to what they had in their hair). Also, during the time this was written whites and blacks didn’t associate with each other as they do today. From the description of their mothers I...

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